Trang An has a great cultural value with stunning natural scenery created harmoniously by limestone karst, rivers and caves.
Visiting Trang An, you can get on an exciting boat trip to explore the nature and different temples.
Notably, you can visit Skull Island Village, which was built as a filming location for King Kong: Skull Island movie. Taking different poses with the village people, wandering and exploring the nature around are fun things to do here.
A ticket for Trang An boat ride is 200 000 VND per person, and the journey usually takes 3 hours. Many travelers choose to visit Trang An and Bai Dinh in one day from Hanoi, as both places are close to each other.
Nowadays, Tam Coc – Bich Dong is one of the few places that still retain the pristine nature with the beauty of the wild countryside.
Tam Coc Boat Ride
The end of April and the beginning of May is considered as the most beautiful season of the year to visit Tam Coc – Bich Dong.
What is more enjoyable than leisurely taking a Tam Coc boat ride, watching the golden rice fields on the riverside?
The journey to Tam Coc starts from Đình Các boat terminal, where the boat riders take travelers along the winding Ngô Đồng River with golden rice fields on both sides. You will then get to visit three caves, namely Hang Cả, Hang Hai and Hang Ba.
Bich Dong Pagoda
After visiting Tam Coc, you can get to Bich Dong Pagoda, which is an ancient pagoda attached to the mountain located about 2 km from Tam Coc wharf.
Situated on Ngu Nhac Mountain, Bich Dong Pagoda was built on the mountainside and divided into three levels: Lower Pagoda, Middle Pagoda, and Upper Pagoda. You can also have a beautiful view of Hoang Long River and Trang Thi field nearby.
Hoa Lu was the capital of Dai Co Viet (the ancient name of Vietnam) nearly ten centuries ago.
With a history of more than 1000 years, this place has experienced many ups and downs of the country and preserved the historical relics through the ages.
Despite the ups and downs of time, Hoa Lu still retains its historical traces. You can even see the sturdy walls, two temples worshiping Dinh Tien Hoang King and Le Dai Hanh King.
Tips: If you would like to participate and experience the busy atmosphere of the festivals, you should come to Hoa Lu during the springtime.
Visit Bai Dinh Pagoda
Known as the largest pagoda complex in Vietnam, Bai Dinh Pagoda is a famous place to visit in Ninh Binh. The Pagoda is located in the west of Hoa Lu ancient capital, about 15 km from Ninh Binh city.
Bai Dinh Pagoda combines an ancient pagoda and a new pagoda complex that was built in 2003.
The ancient pagoda
Located on the slopes of Dinh Mountain, the ancient pagoda was built over 1000 years ago.
After climbing 300 flat stone steps, you can reach the gate of the ancient Bai Dinh. It’s definitely worth your time and effort to climb up the mountain and to visit this part of the pagoda.
Before entering the temple, you can buy incense and wishing-envelop to pray. The integration of the ancient pagoda into the cave and mountain is stunning.
The new pagoda
After visiting the ancient pagoda, you can follow a small path leading to the new pagoda complex.
The newly built pagoda is an 80-hectare site including different highlights such as Jade well, Belltower, the main temple, and the hallway with 500 statues of Arhat.
Tips for visiting Bai Dinh Pagoda
Although it’s free to visit Bai Dinh pagoda, you should take an electric car from the gate to the pagoda as the distance is quite far away. The car ticket costs 30 000 VND. (~$1.5)
I love the view from the pagoda. On my trip there, I visited the ancient pagoda first and then the new one. However, if you don’t have much time, you can choose one of them and take an electric car directly to there.
If you’re looking for the combination of Eastern and Western architecture, head to Phat Diem Cathedral!
Located about 28km south of Ninh Binh city, Phat Diem Cathedral is a 120-year-old church that was built entirely of stone and ironwood.
This cathedral consists of the main church and five small churches (including a church built entirely of natural stone, known as a stone church), bell tower, ponds, and three artificial caves.
As Phat Diem cathedral is a subtle combination of Western church architecture and traditional Eastern architecture, it’s a symbol of the convergence between the Catholic Church and the traditional belief of the Vietnamese people.
Catch the sunlight at Mua Cave
Mua Cave, or Hang Múa, is an exciting place to visit in Ninh Binh thanks to its magnificent scenery.
Mua Cave is located at the foot of the Mountain Mua which has a shape of a large upside bell.
From the bottom of the mountain, you can see the white stone steps leading to the top, and the sides of the stairs have ornamental lines with dragon or phoenix carved on the stone.
Visiting Mua Cave, you can challenge yourself to climb 486 stone steps to the top of the mountain. From here, visitors will have a magnificent view of the Tam Coc area and beautiful rice field.
As Mua Cave is only located 6 km from Ninh Binh city center, you can catch a taxi or motor-taxi easily from your hotel.
Trek at Cuc Phuong National Park
Located 45 km Northwest from Ninh Binh city, Cuc Phuong national park makes a great day trip from Ninh Binh.
Cuc Phuong is characterized as a tropical rainforest with diverse fauna and flora. Visiting Cuc Phuong, you can admire the ancient thousand-year tree, beautiful birds and different species.
The best time to visit Cuc Phuong National Park is during the dry season (from December to May) when the weather in the forest is cold.
You should avoid going in the rainy season as it will affect the experience due to the slippy roads with a lot of mosquitoes and squirrels.
Watch bird at Thung Nham bird field
Thung Nham is one of the most famous places to visit in Ninh Binh.
With an area of more than 300 hectares, Thung Nham has been rehabilitated as a general ecological area: fishing area, hiking, wildlife tours, primitive forest, caves, and especially the wild bird park.
Thung Nham bird field is a living space of many birds such as stork, bittern, etc. The surrounding limestone mountains with the flock of birds create a peaceful scene.